A society in transition. There are post-modern trends in Israeli society, but where they will lead and how one will arrive is an exercise in reading the grains of sand in the Negev for clues. At heart is can there ever be a conciliation between the secular jews, the monied class and the mass of unwashed attached to ritual and tradition, who eschew the Zionist ideal of the ” new person” in favor of the continuity of 3,000 years of tradition. Time flies and it hasn’t always been fun.
The rub is that since the state’s inception the so called enlightened secular vision of the public sphere as always prevailed with democracy as a window dressing and manipulated as an ideology in the interests of the secular establishment which meant and means marginalizing religious and traditional values as being inextricably linked with jewish exile, the feeble physique of male locked into the ghetto, the pious Yeshiva student carted off to the cattle car, the hooked nose, the hunched back, and a variety of other barbs and viscous insinuations to keep the colonized from getting uppity, let them know their place in the packing order and effectively treat them like tolerated guests much as the Nazis did. Pretty sad, but facts are facts.
They call it democracy, but when criticized in turn, it is vulgar, fanatic, insane, authoritarian; they are too pushy, they want to take over; starting to sound familiar. As in America, things are coming to a crisis point, and the occasional opening of the wallet to buy peace is a waning enterprise. Its condescending, its cheap and it reinforces the tension. What do you expect in a country where a dozen families control half the wealth on the stock exchange, and control the army and the bureaucracy. A Jewish Spring is not going to be as messy, but it will get ugly. Their shit doesn’t stink and frankly I really dislike these people. They undemocratically control the country, they hauled the Golden Calf out of Sinai with them and like a cockroach infested building, its going to take strong poison to get rid of them. The Erev-Rav from the Bible? What is known is that certain varieties of of liberalism have been used to choke off debate, milk the conflict, and used as instruments of oppression by channeling debate within the dominant ideology.
Jewish dissidence of the religious style, seems to feed into an emerging consensus that the destruction of the Diaspora civil society elements has been deliberate and harmful in an effort to assimilate and homogenize into the Zionist mold which only reinforces inequalities despite some liberalizing reforms. The version of liberalism always is in accordance with the values of the ruling class since they have the power to make the rules and establish a playing field of values. Typically, this is by focusing on bourgeoise values of individualism, isolating the individual from the broader communities that more accurately reflect the markers of identity. So, this breaking off limits the level of threat they could potentially pose to the power of secular leadership.
And this shutting down of civil society has been a recurrent theme since the state’s inception that has specifically invoked the false dichotomy of linking secularism to democracy and Judaism with something akin to totalitarianism. The principal tool here is using the apparatus of state institutions to engage in the building of a common Israeli culture which they know is futile given the diverse cultures in their midst, but it is still a form of control and they have succeeded to some extent: pre-Israel images of Jewish weakness and submission is embedded in the collective conscious as a skeleton of inferiority which is unfair and vulgar, but by extension the state is unable to deliver an alternative of authentic Judaic culture of their own without conceding their own lies and manipulation. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people…
So, cultural autonomy is hardly expected and encouraged; better to vilify and find some way to make racist stereotypes work. The heathen East Europeans et al. have to heel to the tradition of Voltaire, Stuart-Mill and Darwin from the scepter toting high priests of the elite. How? There is a state controlled secular monopoly on public broadcasting, which limits broadcasting rights, and equally important, education is not decentralized. An education is also the most sophisticated channel to pass ideology and establish a cultural dominance and importantly, again, to control the huge government budget,and the teacher’s union, the construction and maintenance budgets, school supplies; pick the carcass clean with public money going into already deep private pockets.
A true democracy will engage conflicting value systems and that’s what a democracy is supposed to do, not the current Russian style oligarchs or international corporate plutocracy of which Israel is a part of and is falling into the same pit; their banking system is probably guilty of more shenanigans and accounting gymnastics than Americans. There is something fundamentally undemocratic when 90,000 household bank accounts in Jerusalem have been confiscated by municipal authorities for non-payment of taxes.
Can a new dynamic effectuate a more Jewish and less secular public space? Unlikely. The ruling secular class will hold out to he bitter end, maybe even taking their toys and flying the coop instead of having their secular vision challenged and all its patronizing components dismantled. But this is part of a generalized Western phenomenon,the cynical ugly side of the politically correct, in which respecting the feelings of the oppressed and marginalized sectors is fed as if they are animals in a game park with restricted feeding and petting rights. Don’t shoot at them with a bb gun. The ideas floated by the secular of a common agenda, the more serious tool being the existential threat weapon, the trauma of the holocaust and others, all ultimately enhance the standing of the secular elite by extending, renewing and recycling its privileges in new packaging, but the same intrusive and stifling ethic of spinning Zionism as a Jewish homeland, but for only a few who qualify for first class citizenship.